May 4, 2012

Review: Earth 2 #1

Category: Reviews — By @ 11:58 am

Earth 2 #1 was better than I expected, certainly better in terms of an introduction to a world than Justice League #1, though there were still elements that I found problematic.

One of my big worries about the book had been that DC Comics’ Trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman would overshadow the more exclusively-Justice Society characters like Jay Garrick and Alan Scott. They’ve solved this problem neatly, and in the process given the book a bit more of a hook than it would have had otherwise.

I’ve seen the issue described as a prologue, and it is, in that most of the issue takes place five years before the main series picks up. But it’s also a finale: The first 20 pages or so are really the concluding chapter in an apocalyptic war that changed the face of the world. In fact, if Earth 2 does well enough, I can see DC telling the story as a 6-issue miniseries, though the final issue really ought to be a reprint of this story plus an epilogue.

I like what I’ve seen of Alan Scott so far. I haven’t seen enough of Al Pratt to decide. Jay Garrick…well…I’m not terribly thrilled at what’s become of him, but let’s see what we get in issue #2.

On to the spoilers!

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To me, a big part of the appeal of the Justice Society is that they’re substantially different from the Justice League. Jay Garrick is not Barry Allen, Alan Scott is not Hal Jordan, and so on. But outside of short-term replacement stories, Superman is always Kal-El, Wonder Woman is always Diana, and Batman is always Bruce Wayne.

So in my opinion, DC needs to take one of two approaches to the trinity in a Justice Society book:

  • Focus on the actual original Justice Society, not a revamp.
  • Get the trinity out of the way so the other characters can shine.

There are several ways DC could have pushed Bruce, Clark and Diana to the side, but they chose to have the three heroes sacrifice their lives to save the world. That sets them up as inspiration (and preserves a little of the generational aspect of the team), but allows Jay, Alan and company to step up and become the world’s new premiere heroes. It also gives the book more of a reason to exist. Rather than simply, “Oh, it’s another reality” — okay, why focus on it? — we have a reality that specifically lost the Big Three.

In this context I also don’t mind that DC killed off the Amazons and Lois Lane yet again, because they’re killing off the entire mythologies for these characters. The last members of the Superman and Batman families are stranded on another world as Power Girl and the Huntress, and the last of the Greek/Roman gods is about to pass his legacy on to the Flash.

The war pages are by turns epic, gruesome and — in the case of the final conversation between Batman and Robin — touching. While neither Superman nor Wonder Woman left much of an impression on me, I find that I’d actually like to read more about this father/daughter dynamic duo. More problematic: why is it that only Wonder Woman’s death is shown in graphic detail, while Superman and Batman are just caught in explosions?

The present-day pages introduce us to the new Alan Scott and Jay Garrick. I like this Alan Scott: he’s the kind of businessman who’s really good at what he does, but doesn’t sacrifice principles or a conscience.

Jay Garrick, however, is a self-proclaimed “screw-up” (in the movie Hal Jordan mold, anyway, where we’re told that he’s a screw-up) who seems to have no ambition, no prospects, and no direction. If we take Joan Williams’ break-up rant at face value, he’s gone beyond the “everyman” that James Robinson described into total slacker territory. And if we take it as exaggerated, it doesn’t exactly paint Joan in the best light. (Not that she made a great first impression in 1940 either, but she quickly grew into the role of confidante.)

I’m going to be watching issue #2 to see how Jay gets fleshed out, but based on the first impression, I kind of want to cast Seth Rogen…who doesn’t really fit my idea of the Flash.

Earth 2 #1
Written by James Robinson
Art by Nicola Scott and Trevor Scott
Cover by Ivan Reis and Joe Prado

18 responses to “Review: Earth 2 #1”

  1. Kyer says:

    For me, I think my favorite super hero team right now is going to be the webcomic Little League by Yale Stewart over on Tumbler. When you all get tired of the angst and gore, go over there and read some of the most adorable Justice League I’ve seen since Superman/Batman #51. I honestly need some lightness in life.

    Will keep this book in my peripheral vision though because…well, it’s (possibly) Jay.

  2. married guy says:

    I bought it on impulse & enjoyed it quite a bit.
    Still not sold on the new personality for Jay, but otherwise it was a good read.

  3. Christopher Schmitt says:

    I like how people complained about Wally West not being the hero mold when he was first introduced in his own series and subsequent issues.

    Now the new Jay Garrick will be going through this process.

    Too early to say, but it looks like we are getting Wally West, if you will, through Jay.

    • Kyer says:

      Dang it…I was trying to mentally be in denial here!

      Yeah, I saw those similarities too. We’ve got a college student whose ‘slacking’ and whose girlfriend has left him. I’m desperately hoping that Joan doesn’t become Francine nor Jay get a big ego that will get knocked out of him thanks some super villain because I can just hear Didio’s next excuse:

      “We can’t bring back Wally as he was because he’s too much like Barry (as he was written by Geoff) and you can’t have him as Kid Flash in Teen Titans because Bart is filling that spot.”

      (anonymous fan): “But what about making Wally about 19..in college?”

      Didio: “Um….Um… (Someone make Jay a slacker college student pronto!) Well, you see, that would make Wally too much like Jay…”

      *face palm* Dear god. If we insist on asking for Wally back as a husband and father are we going to get a relaunched Max Mercury with Jessie as a wife and his daughter back as well?

      If we ask for Wally back as a speedster trapped within the speed force will we get Johnny Quick returned to us instead? *sighs*

      • Stephen says:

        Maybe, we should just stop asking for Wally?

        • Kyer says:

          Yes.
          Right along with everything else I’d love to have in my life but The Powers That Be keep denying. Just let it all go….and die of ennui. From a certain point of view that would solve everything.

          If only I could just cease to care about things. :(

          • Stephen says:

            We don’t always get what we want in life. The important thing is to not get so hung-up over small things and just go on.

  4. Ben France says:

    I really enjoyed it. It’s always nice to see the Trinity suffer, in a perverse way, so I thought the fact they’re shunted out the way in such a grand guignol way was quite touching. (And might Batman’s and Superman’s relatively off-screen deaths be a precursor to future return?). Loved the characterisation of Alan Scott, and Jay. We mustn’t forget in the few brief pages he’s in he has just had his heart ripped out. I also love the tantalising thought that DC’s own Mercury will become entwined with the mythical Mercury. As a first issue I think it did its job in making me want to read more, and I cannot wait for that.

    • Kyer says:

      Doubt we’ll see the return of Superman or Batman given that at least Superman actually exploded. The picture shows him disintegrating. A future clone is a possibility. Hey, it’s comics….anything is possible (as long as Editorial allows it.) Again, though, I think that they are going to want to put the spotlight on the main cast.

      Will miss Mercury. Hermes is the only thing in Wonder Woman that I have any interest in; it would have been neat if Mercury had been able to stick around even if weakened…a sort of ongoing behind-the-scenes mentor. THAT would have made me very tempted to buy the trade right there.

  5. Rob S. says:

    “More problematic: why is it that only Wonder Woman’s death is shown in graphic detail, while Superman and Batman are just caught in explosions?”

    I have something of an answer to this, if you don’t mind spoilers.

    On his recent (May 4) interview with Comic Vine, Robinson mentioned (again, spoilers!) that Diana is mistaken about being the last of the Amazons — there’s one other. And because Stepenwolf killed her personally, this character will have a personal vendetta against him.

    So that’s the reason why Diana wasn’t killed in an explosion, and her killing was more personal. Making the death more personal probably, in some ways, necessitates it being more gruesome, considering Steppenwolf doesn’t have Omega Beams or anything like that — he’s a hands-on fighter. Which didn’t mean it had to be THAT gruesome… but the art did have to convey she was dead with some finality. And an explosion wouldn’t cut it, in her case.

  6. I like the idea that the Trinity of Earth-2 is gone to really do give the highlight to Alan and Jay and the rest of the would be heroes of this alternate world. Also having Alan and Jay be in the same age bracket with the Earth-1 heroes will be and interesting match-up once the two sets of heroes from both Earths collides. No advantage as far as experience goes and they had their youth to match with each other.

  7. I didn’t hate it 😀

    It seems like an interesting enough start and if I didn’t have any knowledge of the characters I would probably have liked it even more. Some people seem to hate it because it doesn’t really satisfy somebody who might have come looking for a replacement for the JSA book, but otherwise it was a solid read (not remarkable, but I’m curious enough to keep reading).

    Over at Comixology the cover had a really low resolution version of the logo, I haven’t seen the actual comicbook so I’d like to know if it looks just as bad.

  8. ***Dave says:

    You’ve a more generous view of the issue than I did. I found Superman and Wonder Woman horribly portrayed, and while I liked the idea of Batman having a relationship with a daughter Robin, even there the dialog was … dubious.

    I agree with getting the Trinity out of the way, and I liked Alan, and what little we saw of Al, but Jay left me cold, for many of the same reasons you lay out.

    So … another Amazon? Maybe all the Donna fans out there will get a little love (even if the Wally fans pine away).

    • Hugo says:

      a “new 52” Fury (Lyta Trevor) would be more logical, given that – for the moment at least – we stick with Golden Age/Earth-2-related characters…

  9. Perplexio says:

    Jay sounds like how “Barry” was portrayed on that god-awful JLA pilot from the mid-90s.

  10. NathanS says:

    “who seems to have no ambition, no prospects, and no direction”

    Why do writers keep making this mistake? As The great Vonnegut said:

    “When I used to teach creative writing, I would tell my students to make their characters want something right away even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the meaninglessness of modern life still have to drink water from time to time.”

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